the wisdom of the sands - antoine de saint-exupéry

He desired to acquire. He has acquired. And has he now achieved happiness? But happiness lay in the effort of acquiring. Consider the plant that shapes a flower. Is it happy for having shaped its flower? Nay, rather, self-fulfilled; and now it has nothing to look forward to but death. First we have desire, a zest for work, and the craving for success. Then comes repose. But no man can live by that repose, which nourishes him not; for what is aimed at must not be confounded with that which nourishes. Thus a man may run the fastest, and win the race; but he cannot live on his won race. Nor another, lover of the sea, on the great storm he has bested. That storm was but a single arm-stroke in his swimming; it called for another and another stroke. And the pleasure of forming a flower, of riding out a storm, of building the temple is other than the pleasure of possessing a full-blown flower, a memory of riding out the storm, a standing temple. Vain is the hope of finding pleasure in that which one has hitherto disdained; as when the warrior hopes to find pleasure in the joys of the sedentaries. Yet, while seemingly the warrior fights to achieve that which nourishes the sedentary, he has no right to feel frustrated if, when peace comes, he is changed into a sedentary - for false is the lament of one who tells you that, like a will-o'-the-wisp, fruition eternally flees before desire. He is mistaken as to the object of desire. What you seek eternally, you say, hovers eternally just out of reach. But it is as if a tree were to lament: "I have shaped my flower and, lo, it is turning into a seed, and the seed will become a tree again, and the tree once again put forth a flower." Thus, now you have bested the storm, the storm is become repose, yet this repose is but the harbinger of another storm. This I tell you: that there is no divine grace to absolve you from the process of becoming. You fain would be; but you can be only in God's good time. He will gather you into his garner when your slow process of becoming ends and you are fully molded by your deeds; for, mark you, man is slow in coming to birth.

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